The Spiral Wanderers
The time waves have been coming and going. They felt it in their very core - and even there, fighting the raise of another forgotten god in his own private dimension, it shook them. Their mission was accomplished, they thought, and now it was the moment to go back. Back, and rest; the world was saved. From their eyes, at least, it was.
Would you call a failure if your eyes were focused in a raging bear, while the bullet from another hunter's weapon hit you in the back? What if, right before being hit, you actually managed to calm the beast and convince it to return to his cave in peace?
The world they returned to was in shards. It had suffered the effects of something it could never expect, something forgotten, and the world saviors saved the world from a fragment of what the true menace is. As they walked back home, cities and countries were already changed, in the imminence of a strange war about things every men forgot.
As the heroes marched, city by city they heard of Vonn and Novo, and the two immense legions of followers being formed across the multiverse. Golarion was just another stop, and far from being the center of what was about to happen. The cold war was already installed, and as priests questioned their faiths and were abandoned by their deities, even existence itself risked to collapse.
Months passed. The returning heroes took different paths, searching for other friends and loved ones, and as much as their victory was celebrated, it all felt eclipsed. Small threats would raise here and there, but nothing relevant; nothing that would require that powerful team to be reunited. Yet, on the date scheduled, they all came back together.
The inn on the Mwangi lands was the chosen location. It was silent. The keeper seemed sad, upset, cleaning the dishes and avoiding looking at his only clients. The heroes were there, drinks in hand, but the uncomfortable silence insisted in force them to painful memories they wanted to forget. On their grand, masterful quest, not everything were victories; even as the head of that minor evil god hit the floor, they had felt the wave already, and knew their sacrifice meant very little. They had an empty chair on the table with them.
If it all was, of course, real at all. If any of that had happened.
Because from a sip to another, each of them understood they weren't really there. They were actually waking up; each of them in a separate barrel of fruits. It was a fairly big room and they were swimming in pure confusion. Slowly coming back from the very lack of conscience, they saw themselves on that place surrounded by those barrels. There was a single crude door made of dirty wood. It all felt familiar, but they couldn't pinpoint how. The room was dim, lighted by the weak fire of a single torch lying on the floor, near the body of an old dwarf.
And here we start!
Kejak feels the change around him, but also in his friends' faces, so he knows they also feel it.
-What's this? Why are we here? Is this Novo again?
He is still not used to the new capacity of mind-talking to his fellows. When he remembers it, he tries to focus and asks.
-You are feeling it too, I know. What is this? Where are we?
Nesipho closed his eyes against the disorientation, hoping to avoid a wave of nausea he feared would follow.
Kejak's voice in his mind though helped him to refocus. The mind speech was still odd for him, it had its uses, but it felt... wrong. Sometimes one needed to hear the words, not just feel them. With that he broke the silence.
"Nadao sam se da ćeš aleady imali odgovor na to. Ali mislim da ćemo morati srediti."
I was hoping you'd aleady have an answer to that. But I guess we will have to sort it out.
Sylvan? Why was Sylvan the language that came so easily to mind right now?
"Best we find out."
Nesipho stood and walked over to the dwarf.
Heal check for cause of death?: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
Perception check to notice anything odd/out of place about the dwarf: 1d20 + 27 ⇒ (3) + 27 = 30
Pakiru is just as confused as his compatriots, though retais the slight advantage that voices in his head are FAR from unusual for him, and takes them in stride.
"Something about this seem familiar to the rest of you?" he asks in accented Common, though much less severely so than when they first met.
He prepares for trouble, and calls his spirits to him, closing his eyes and concentrating, casting his senses about the room.
Going round by round for now, unless you say we can act freely. Full-Round action: Manifest my Ectoplasmic Lashes. Free action: Close my eyes. This grants me Blindsight 30 ft. and the Scent special ability. Do these special senses give me any new information about the room?
If I have another round to act:
Pakiru then opens his eyes and inspects the body of the dwarf as well, putting to use his long rusted skills as a simple healer.
Heal: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (11) + 14 = 25
Perception: 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (8) + 22 = 30
Lyra frowns. She had been greatly enjoying her drink, and though tone was somber and everyone's moods so sour, the rest in the tavern had been a welcome change.
She pats herself down, making sure she was as expected, even if perhaps the room and her memories might not be trusted. She instinctively scans the room for traps, gazing at the door for a bit before answering Pakiru in Common. The option to respond to Nesiphho in her native tongue of Sylvan was tempting, but she manages to resist.
Perception for traps: 1d20 + 29 ⇒ (19) + 29 = 48
"Yes, it does. I don't remember buying a bunch of barrels of apples, nor us having a dead dwarf with us. Any idea who they are?"
Ezra is slow to shake off the mind fog and silenly asseses the room for a moment before reacting. He then moves to the dwarf and looks for signs of life.
perception: 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (2) + 24 = 26
heal: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
if the dwarf is alive, Ezra casts cure light wounds. for cure: 1d8 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16
"There is something familiar about this, I just can't recall why."
Nesipho's lips twitch in a half smile. "You don't remember the barrel of apples? Well I guess I shouldn't be to surprised considering what you did with them."
<Okay, folks, let's focus. Let's see where we are and what are we doing here.>
Kejak focuses on his own dragon lines, so as to augment his chi perception of the whole tapestry of things.
Will use a full-round action to activate his Combat Meditation, then use it on a Perception roll to roll twice and take the better result. The Perception roll is to find clues about the place (where are we, what is this, why are we here, etc).
Perception: 1d20 + 25 + 1d8 ⇒ (16) + 25 + (2) = 43
Perception: 1d20 + 25 + 1d8 ⇒ (8) + 25 + (5) = 38
Edit: Actually, I think I should roll both d20, pick one and only then roll the d8, but anyway... too late for this time, I'll try to remember next time.
<We seem to have been dislodged by another 'wave'...> Micah thinks to his companions. He was accustomed to hearing his little brother's voice in his head but it felt strange to hear so many again after a long break. Standing, he grips his polearm in both hands and shifts his stance to be ready for trouble.
<What can you tell of this dwarf?> he wonders to those investigating as he moves over towards the lone door.
I have constant blindsense, in case that makes a difference in describing rooms...
Forgot to mention: you now have the campaign traits. You didn't have it before our gameplay just started. Please leave them on the sheets and take their effects into consideration, but feel free to act surprised if they come into play at any moment
You don't feel like you're quite there with your group. It's like you "know" a little before what's happening. The feeling gives a little headache, but very mild. You can't pinpoint what's happening - it's like you're slightly "ahead" in time than the rest of you friends, and this makes you faster somehow.
Vonn... Novo... How is it possible? They are there, alive; and your believes are being crushed, broken in shards as much as time itself. Right now, deities, gods, religion, matter not. Was this all a lie you heard your entire life? How can everybody else not see it, as you do? You might keep it to yourself. You're understanding better than the rest, but just the thought of it all would overwhelm them. You have to find out more.
You feel nauseous for some moments, as if your organs had been removed and readded to your body. The feeling passes surprisingly fast, though. You feel adjusted already, while the others might still be feeling the changes that just happened.
Your group needs you. No matter if you just finished, barely months ago, saving the world; you're needed again. And your friends - your brother, even - need you to be on the top of your game. Swallow your pain and confusion, you keep telling yourself.
When you opened your eyes, the world wasn't the same. You smelled each fruit around you, more than just that form - but maybe even the shape that slowly composed it, and let yourself wander on the many mutations it suffered as time passed. When you spoke, your voice came out on a language you heard before, but wasn't even aware you could speak: it's Sylvan, you believe.
Voices, voices, voices in your head. More than before; there's someone else there. Maybe more than one person. For moments, you felt as you have lived a different life, maybe different lives, as different races, gender, ages. Past and future, you can't pinpoint, and it's all incredibly confusing. Finally you feel yourself and hold to it; you take control. They're still there, but they're aware of who's the leader of this mind. At least you hope they are.
There are no traps they can notice, or anything else for that matter; the room seems to be exactly what their regular senses say, a big room full of chests and barrels of fruits and small mundane items. Some of them are rotten already, but the ones occupied by the heroes are almost fresh.
As each person approaches the dwarf, they can verify he's very much alive, just hurt and unconscious. When Ezra cures him, his eyes open suddenly, and he jumps back standing.
Arrr! - he growls and continues speaking in a very accented common - What...? Where...?
He moves around an immense dwarven longhammer. If his first reflex was to swing it towards the heroes, his eyes quickly calm and he moves it away from them.
Oh... Ay... - he says, while his head drops. A short smile forms, and they can see tears - One last time, heh?
His voice seems to suggest he knows them. No one seems to remember him, though.
-They... they are all! They were there... How can it be? And why? Why all this charade? I... can see clear now, but... Seeing doesn't mean understanding, it seems...
Kejak is kicked off his dreamings by an angry dwarf that swings a hammer at him. Both he and the dwarf shake their heads, as if to see clearer.
Kn Local: 1d20 + 8 + 1d8 ⇒ (20) + 8 + (2) = 30
Kn Geography: 1d20 + 8 + 1d8 ⇒ (19) + 8 + (8) = 35
Kn Nature: 1d20 + 8 + 1d8 ⇒ (5) + 8 + (1) = 14
Oh... Ay... One last time, heh?
-Uh... Mmmh... You... know us? We... I mean I... don't seem to remember you...
<Guys, does anyone know him?>
Take 10 on Geo and Nature for a 24 and 32.
Geography (Untrained): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
Pakiru staggers, holding his head.
"The spirits are loud here. They drown each other out." he explains to his companions.
"And who are you, dwarf? Why are we here? And why are the winter fruits in season already?"
Micah keeps his spear at the ready. He scrutinizes the dwarf as he waits to hear it's reply.
it seems to recognize us... but none of us recognize it... It could be some foul witchcraft, or perhaps another one of these disruptive waves... Whatever the case I must remain calm and vigilant...
knowledge geography: 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (8) + 21 = 29
knowledge local: 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (6) + 21 = 27
knowledge nature: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20
<I do not think he is a threat, be prepared, but do not provoke him>
Staying focused on the Dwarf, Ezra tries to remain collected and unravel the situation.
"Please, Master Dwarf, I am in a bit of a haze and I can't seem to place how we are known to each other. Tell me your name and how we are acquainted, to help jog my memory."
If Ezra can keep him engaged in pleasentries for a minute, he will attempt a diplomacy check
diplomacy: 1d20 + 30 ⇒ (13) + 30 = 43
Lyra eyes down the dwarf, letting her companions do the talking while she tuned out their voices in her mind, and focused on what the dwarf might be thinking.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 23 ⇒ (8) + 23 = 31 To get a hunch on whatever he says next
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (15) + 3 = 18 After 1 minute of conversation: To read surface thoughts (vs bluff check)
Probably unlikely I'll ever read someone's thoughts that way because of the -20, but still a neat ability haha
Nesipho slips into dwarven speech, the words flowing as naturally from him as common. "Да , ну я, конечно, надеюсь, что это в последний раз . Я даже не уверен, что я хочу сделать это в первый раз ..."
Aye, well I certainly hope this is the last time. I'm not even sure I want to do this a first time...
Heh, heh. It's always refreshing to be with ya, kids, even after all this time.
The dwarf looked to be old - maybe a little past middle-aged for his race - and yet, you had the impression he was referring to some other experience when he said "after all this time".
Thanks, Nesie, long time I don't hear my native tongue. Please, gather 'round. Young Ezra and Micah, my dear Lyra, all of ya. We will get to all of it, Kejak, Pakie! We always have some minutes... Eleven, to be exact.
He sat down on the floor. The nicknames he gave to some of you didn't sound strange, as much as you don't recall being called by it before.
First things first, I'm called Godrum. Aye know you know about tha waves, and Vonn and Novo. Ya don't remember me, ya never do, but a long, long time ago, your group of six heroes was actually our merry band of seven.
He paused as people would sit around and absorb what he was saying. He seemed to be hurrying, but not too much as to make things cryptic.
Ya forgot me because that's what death now does. Yar simply forgotten, ya soul is consumed by time itself and ya cease to exist. If ya soul abandon ya carcass, you're beyond saving, which is ma case. Ya, ma old friends, if once I led ya on our greatest adventures, I die as soon as that door opens. - he pointed at the door behind him - So ya might be asking what I'm doing heeere now, rie?
He breaths deeply.
As ya can imagine, this ain't the first time ya pass through all of it. You relive all of it. Different each time, mind ya, because yarr up to a buncha time manipulating cultists trying to kill yall.
New pause, as he realizes things are way too confusing.
Okay, okay, let me try to rephrase that. Yarrr all much more powerful than when ya did it the first time. That's because you have been doing it ovah and ovah. We started together, but aye never got further than this door. I was forgotten by you, due to the time effect, but I've been roaming and seeing all ya have accomplished. Ya never, however, succeed - the waves end up hitting us before ya can solve this big mess, and back with yall.
"So, there is a solution," Micah asks still trying to fully comprehend all that the dwarf has said, "There is some way to stop the waves once and for all, if we can reach it before another wave drives us back to the beginning again?"
His stance relaxes some, though it's clear he's still on edge.
<what do you make of all this, brother?> he asks Ezra.
<He seems oddly familiar to me. I know it's is more my nature to trust than yours. But he has the feel of an ally, not a potential ally.>
"What you have said has the familiar warmth of truth. Please tell us more about these quests, and more importantly, how we failed our previous attempts." Ezra says, now fully engrossed in this tale of timewaves.
<As far as I can tell, he seems to be telling the truth.>
"Let's say that we believe you - how are we supposed to break the cycle? And if we've done this all before, what are we supposed to expect past that door?"
Nesipho looks around the plain and simple room again to add emphasis to his words. "And where exactly are we right now? Are we still in our home world? Or is this in another plane of existence?"
He looks straight at the dwarf again, a smile playing over his lips, "And how much time do we have to solve... whatever it is we need to solve?"
Realized I forgot to roll for the above checks
Kn Geography: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Kn Nature: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17
He reaches into one of the barrels of fruit, looking for a fresh one to sample.
-I think... I think we should take some time and our friend... Godrum... might want to tell us more about this thing. At least all that he feels we might know, in the eleven minutes remaining.
Well, ma friends, I'm not the only friend you'll make and lose during this quest of ya. We could never precise when the next wave would hit - the events were always changing, it could be days or weeks or months -, but now... It doesn't quite matter anymore. As for the last wave... We caused it.
He pauses for brief seconds.
You see, every single time before, you were getting closer and closer to the objective, but then the wave would hit... And back with ya here. But the last time, somehow, you managed to go beyond it. Ya ascended to a point we never saw before, and got closer as never to finish this whole mess... But then, that happened. I... I can't... Look, you were all about ta die. And if ya die... Ya'd be all like me, like ghosts forever stuck in the time waves. So we - me, all of your other friends that died and some that didn't before - sacrificed our souls, and forced this last wave, right before yall were finished.
A tear drops.
And now, back we're here... For a last time. A last ride. There's nothing else we can do now. When the next wave hits, we are all gone forever. You can't die. You can't regress anymore. That's the last ride, you're the final riders, the spiral is at its end. No more wandering for us.
He doesn't seem to ever precise any event, or give much information - and you have a feeling this is in purpose.
As for beyond this door... Kobolds. We came here, hired by a small village, to help them deal with some sort of black dragons these little rascals were worshipping, and requiring offers and gifts and the whatnots. That's what we were here for, in this mine.
Godrums's words and his tear all seem genuine to Kejak.
-Hearing that you and some others have sacrificed your souls to make this happen, I think the least we can do is try to live up to it.
Pakiru is taken aback.
"Why? What is so important that you'd sacrifice the one most important thing just to give us one last chance?"
A knot forms in the pit of Ezra's stomach as he listens and begins to understand that he failed Godram.
Failed repeatedly to drive back the spectre of death, and this purgatory is the dwarfs punishment for Ezra's failure.
Ezra's eyes get dark as the gravity of his inadequacy becomes known to the group. His greatest fear realized, and he could'nt even remember it.
Could'nt honor the fallen with a tribute.
Ezra says a quiet prayer to The Inheritor, though he knows not who he is even praying for.........
Nesipho sits down on the floor, his back against one of the barrels, and begins eating the piece of fruit he had selected.
"How old is this dragon Godrum?" Given his vagueness so far I'll be surprised to get a direct answer, but won't hurt to ask.
Lyra notes his vague description and reluctance, and - ever inquisitive - pushes on.
"A better question, Nesipho, if we usually got so far is - what was about to kill us last time? If we're going to survive this, we need to know everything. Otherwise we're just as doomed as before."
<I guess you're right. I'm also not sure if Godrum is connected to our communication channel. But anyway, let's do this!>
Shaking off his melancholy, Ezra joins the others in seeking information about the previous failures.
"Godrum, I know each attempt must have certain variations, but any insight you could give us to help prepare would prove invaluable."
<We should listen to him. If he is trying to decieve us, that will become apparent. If he is not, to throw away his counsel would be discarding a vital advantage.>
<Are we sure learning too much is wise? Time is...not well undrstood. What if merely knowing too many specifics forces us onto the path of death?>
The dragon? Oh, you're in for a surprise, Nesie.
He laughs loudly.
Kids, I obviously can't tell you much. The previous wave happened at a place called the Twilight of Gods. As you already figured, the more you know of the events, the more likely they'll be deadly for you. Ya see, the enemies ya killed, everybody who fell, is like you learning and all. The difference is that, like me, they remember everything and, different than me, they just exist now to end your existence. Ya souls are very tasty to them right now, ya know. Even tha little kobolds we fought beyond the door, which we fought when we were but barely starting adventurers, are now deadly and infernally tough.
He pauses for some more moments. He chooses the words, but his tone stays friendly and melancholic, almost nostalgic.
Heh, yeah, Golarion. Of course you'd remind of everything as if it was Golarion. It is, and it isn't, right now. Don't get comfortable with the familiarity, it's a trap. We are far beyond the Golarion we knew. Your recent memories aren't true, ya know... They're fragments of different times and dimensions that ya head put together in a familiar way to make it bearable. There are, however, things aye can tell ya.
He looks around. The entire group feels a small shake on the ground, like a tiny earthquake.
They're faster than before! I shoulda imagined. No matter now - I'll tell ya what I can in the time we have. Magic, my friends, doesn't work the way you think it does. Each school, each specialty, is twisted by the waves of time, and most of them will either not work or act against ya selves. Careful with any spells, spell like abilities and even supernatural abilities ya think ya might possess... Arcane or divine.
He holds a big iron holy symbol of Torag.
About divine and gods... Yes, something is still there. But every time I tried to commune or talk to a specific deity... I didn't hear back. Even if our prayers are still being heard... Please, be careful. Remember... Not Golarion. Not anywhere.
Another humbling, as if another tiny earthquake. He looks at you, now looking a little afraid.
Haha, I look forward to seeing how this plays out
Lyra frowns - though she didn't rely quite as heavily on spells as her companions, she did have magic that was innate to her race.
She focuses a bit, and shifts back to her natural kitsune form, tan fur sprouting across her skin.
Nesipho frowns at this latest bit of information, his mind immediately beginning to wander down the path of figuring out what will have changed from his normal expectation.
He casts a simple cantrip and begins examining his gloves of storing while the dwarf continues.
Cast Detect Magic, examine gloves of storing to see if I can determine how the spell might behave differently than expected.
Lyra shifts without issues. If there's an effect to her shift, she didn't notice.
When Nesipho casts, however, he feels as if the spell had a slight delay before he started seeing magic auras around him. He finished the words and hands movement, and it didn't - happen. Until it finally happened.
The magic auras were there - and as he focused, his gloves became obvious as well. The dwarf, curiously, didn't seem to have anything magical about him. Still afraid, he approached them a little more and spoke.
We don't have much time before they get here. They're moving faster than before, but then again... It wouldn't be the last and most incredible attempt if things weren't harder, would it? - he says, and then touches Nesipho in the arm - Aye reckon ya spell, boy. These will work, most of the time.
He moved now closer to the door, aiming his weapon as if preparing himself.
Divinations seem to be influenced by the decision of... Someone. As if every time ya'r trying to see or understand beyond normal eyes, ya have to be allowed. This... Place... You're now is essentially part of someone, or something, and this entity seems to have power ta say yay or nay for whatcha can see, and I'm pretty sure it can see ya everytime ya cast this type of spell.
"Interesting. I wonder what might be learned about this... being, simply by what it allows or does not allow a person to divine through magic." Nesipho takes out a blank sheet of paper and makes a couple of notes on it.
He looks at Lyra, "Anything unexpected?" His hand poised over his paper to make more notes.
"Anything else of import to tell us Godrum? You seem to know more about the current state of events then we are able to remember."
"Does this being that controls divination also have power over all the other magics? Separate beings per school of magic?"
Lyra pats down her fur, checks that nothing seems missing, and shrugs.
"Everything seems fine - it didn't feel any different than normal."
"If something, or someone, is in charge of something as powerful as an entire school of magic, it must somehow be related to the waves, right? It definitely wasn't always this way."
"But it sounds like we don't have much time to stay here and continue doing tests - is there anything else we should know?"
The dwarf speaks on his same deep tone and heavy accent.
I dunno much about tha entity or entities themselvah. Each different dimension, or realm, ya're into, it's a different all-powerful thingie. As far as I know, the only schools that work like that, like a personal authorization thing, are divination and the teleportation subschool of conjuration. The difference is that while divination seems to work most of the time, I never saw teleportation work. Conjuration is all types of mess!
He continues, now looking at Lyra.
I believe ya'r right, young one. But see, it seems these entities always existed, but their power and dimensions were never like that - until the Vonn and Novo thing kicked, and the spiral of waves came carrying us. There's much, much more to know... About evocation, abjuration, healing, emotions, whatnot. But I dunno much ta be sincere - I never went too far!
Please let me know your active senses at this moment, and their origin